Photo (cc) by quinn.anya
If you have children, our headline may have incited some strong feelings.
I completely understand. I was taken aback when I read this headline for a story by Fiona Zublin on Ozy: “There Should Be Flights Just for Parents.” But Zublin quickly dispelled my rage by starting her story like this:
If you’re smugly reading the headline and nodding, this isn’t about you. People who complain about babies on flights deserve the same amount of sympathy as people who complain about overweight people sitting next to them on planes — i.e., none — and if you are one of those gripers, consider this an exhortation to shape the hell up. If a parent isn’t literally changing their baby’s diaper on the little foldout tray table that the next person in that seat will unwittingly eat off, they’re probably doing their best. Put in your headphones and chill.
Zublin says there really should be flights specifically for families, not because children should be barred from standard flights, but because a family plane – or even a family section in a plane – could better accommodate the needs of kids and their parents, while providing a quieter setting (and maybe less seat kicking) for childless travelers. Zublin writes:
Such a section could be designed around the needs of little kids — show kid-friendly movies, have a changing table in the bathroom, maybe have some seats designed for smaller kids or infants. It could stock kids meals and a bottle warmer — though most airline food is so bland and snacky it’s basically a Happy Meal anyway.
Zublin acknowledged that there are potential downsides with her proposal. Redesigning plane space could be expensive. But airlines are operating with record profits now, so there doesn’t appear to be a better time than the present.
Also, Zublin noted that some travelers may feel slighted because parents and families are getting what could be perceived as special treatment.
Featured on a talk show in the U.K. last August, Kelly Rose Bradford, a U.K. mom and writer, proposed separate planes for families or segregated areas on flights, where children and families can be kept away from other travelers, the U.K. Mirror reports.
“Your holiday starts from the moment you sit on the plane. You let out that sigh of relief, you’ve left work behind, left all the stresses behind and you take off and all of a sudden you get the kicking at the back of your seat or you get the wailing,” Bradford said. “We’ve got business class, we’ve got first class, why can’t we have a family section?”
Although the mom admitted to taking her now 12-year-old son on short flights when he was a baby, she said she quit taking him between ages 18 months and 2 1/2 years.
“I didn’t travel, I didn’t fly with him simply because I didn’t want the grief and I didn’t want to subject everyone else to it as well because I know how irritating it is when you are the person sitting next to that family, behind them or in front of them,” Bradford explained.
A poll on the Mirror website asked readers if they would be willing to pay extra for a child-free flight. Roughly 64 percent of respondents said they would fork over more cash for a flight with no kids.
My family has taken very few flights together since we had children. In fact, my 2-year-old son has yet to be on an airplane. Although my daughter has always been well-behaved on flights, I know not all parents have it that easy. I can sympathize.
Although I love the idea of having a family area in the plane, and maybe a bathroom that can accommodate a simple diaper change, it would not be a feature I would be willing to pay more for. It’s expensive enough having to purchase four plane tickets when our family flies.
What do you think about having a childless flight option or a family-class area on planes? Would it be an option you’d be willing to pay more for? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.